Well, this is it you guys. The final post of my wine country adventure. Are you as sad as I am that it’s over? If you’re just now joining in and missed the previous posts, click here, here, here and here to catch up!
I must say, our last day was also our longest day of tasting, and the one that we were most looking forward to. We had three wineries on the agenda, each with it’s own unique twist. First up was the Mayo Reserve Room in Kenwood, where we would have lunch. Lisa & I both had been to the Reserve Room previously, and both adored it so we knew it was a place that we definitely wanted to include in this trip as well.
Upon arrival, we were warmly greeted by the chef, the only person manning the entire tasting room. (I expect this is the norm on weekdays, when the traffic is a little slower.) It was nice to have his complete and undivided attention to explain exactly what was ahead of us, which was an exceptional 7-course food and wine pairing. After fielding our many questions, inquiring about our music preferences, snapping our pic, and pouring us the first three glasses of wine, he disappeared to the kitchen to work his magic.
A short while later, our first plate appeared…..
Yuzu ginger lemongrass ceviche of Kampachi (upper right corner of plate)
2009 Sauvignon Blanc, Emma’s Vineyard, Napa Valley
Brillat-Savarin, Chevre, Parmesan basket and peach jam (trio on lower corner)
paired with 2007 Viognier, Saralee’s Vineyard, Russian River Valley
Petite filet of beef with Trumpet Royales on butter focaccia topped with sea salt (shown upper left corner)
paired with 2007 Pinot Noir, La Cruz Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
As we gobbled up all of these delights (the cheese/Viognier pairing was my favorite), another couple arrived and took the table next to us. Before long we were chatting and discovered that they were from Chicago but owned a vacation home just a few miles down the road. In the months that they aren’t using it, they rent it out to other wine country visitors. The mention of a gourmet kitchen and a hot tub had us intrigued…perhaps we’ve found a new home away from home for our next excursion! It’s in a perfect location, close to many of the wineries and tasting rooms of Sonoma, and would be a great place for a small group to stay. Click here for photos and pricing.
And get this- one of my friends mentioned that I had a food & drink blog, and amazingly, our new Chicago friend said that she had read it before! How’s that for a small world?
Okay, enough about our chatter. Moving on to our second plate:
Rabbit with carrot three way (golden carrot, crimson carrot, orange carrot puree) and pea shoots (shown upper left corner)
paired with 2007 Zinfandel, Ricci Vineyard, Russian River Valley
Gruyere Custard with heirloom tomato salad, olive oil foam, radish sprouts (upper right corner)
paired with 2006 Cabernet Franc, Ridgeline Ranch, Alexander Valley
Duck confit on corn cake with Meritage binge cherry reduction (lower part of photo)
paired with 2005 Meritage, Rancho Salina Vineyard, Sonoma Valley
This duck, spiced with fennel, allspice, and toasted bay leaves, was incredible.
And then there was dessert. Not just any dessert, this was a work of art!
Blueberry Creme Fraiche and Basil Sauce with Blue Pepper Crack
paired with 2005 Meritage, Rancho Salina Vineyard, Sonoma Valley
I tried to take in all the chef was telling me about this one, but there was so much going on that I got a little lost…(of course, the 7 wines we’d just sampled might have had something to do with my lack of focus too!)
I do remember that the blueberry creme fraiche was fortified with wine, and the basil sauce was seasoned with lemon juice. Somewhere in the concoction were madagascar vanilla beans, and the crack was seasoned with black pepper. Whatever it was, however it was made, it was sensational!
The Reserve Room is definitely a MUST on your visit to wine country. I know I will continue to come back here again and again.
9200 Sonoma Highway
Open Daily, 10:30 am to 6:30 pm
For Reservations, Call (707) 833-5504
$35 or $25 for Club Members or with wine purchase
Next it was time to head to our tour at Hendry, the maker of my friend Amanda’s favorite wine. We not only underestimated the time it would take us to get there, but we also got just a bit lost, so when we finally arrived 30 minutes late the walking tour had already started without us. Totally understanding, they had someone from the front office lead us out to the vineyard to catch up with the group.
Although many of the tours are done by Mr. Hendry himself, he wasn’t there that day, so our guide was his nephew. No complaints here. From walking us through the vines, explaining harvesting and grafting, to taking us through the bottling process, he was excellent!
When we finally ventured into the tasting room after walking the grounds for quite some time, it was nice to find we’d be seated at a long dining table instead of forced to stand at a bar. For the next hour or so, we were treated to a tasting of twelve really great wines, all the while, getting educted on the nuances of each one.
As tasty as the wines were, I’ll always remember this particular tasting for another reason as well. During it, as I was sampling the wine pictured below, I received some shocking, yet exciting news. This is when my phone alerted me to a new email stating that I had been chosen as one of Nashville Lifestyles’ 25 Most Beautiful People! I honestly almost spit red wine all over the guy seated next to me. Luckily I was able to quickly recover and swallow without drawing too much attention to myself ;-)
One of the best, most comprehensive tours and tastings I’ve done, it’s hard to believe that it’s completely FREE! Yes, you heard me right. For the entire 2+ hours you spend at Hendry, and the 10-12 wines you sample, you don’t have to pay a dime. Now that is not to say that you won’t spend any money, because I can almost guarantee that you won’t be able to resist purchasing a few bottles to add to your wine collection. I know we’re looking forward to cracking open the case that we came home with!
3104 Redwood Rd
Napa, CA 94558
Call 707-226-8320 to schedule a tour and tasting appointment. No drop-ins allowed.
Our wine country adventure culminated with a very special private tasting set up by a Nashville friend that’s in the wine business. The owner of Suhr Luchtel met us on the back porch of their tasting room after hours, with bottles of practically every wine in their portfolio. Relaxing there with all of those delightful wines, the incredible views of the surrounding vineyards, and the pleasant company of friends, contentment washed over us. Ah, life is good.